TWO Catholic teachers with a devotion to Eucharistic adoration have introduced young children to the Real Presence of Christ with heart-warming responses.
Acting assistant principal for religious education at St Finbarr’s Primary School, Ashgrove, Luke Thomsen and fellow staff member Naimh Healy organised Eucharistic adoration sessions for 187 students aged four to 11 during Corpus Christi week.
The adoration initiative is part of a school-wide pioneering program called Kids in Action, and encourages students in Christian outreach and social justice as well as evangelisation and faith formation.
Every classroom was invited to a 30-minute adoration session inside the adjoining St Finbarr’s Church.
The sessions included staff-led scriptural meditations, reflection times and silent prayer.
Ms Healy, who led each classroom’s adoration session, said the children developed a deeper desire for prayer, with a couple returning to the church during their lunch breaks.
Parishioners were invited to fill out the remaining sessions in the 24-hour block of adoration, with several teachers taking up holy hours in the early hours of the morning.
Students were also asked to write feedback about their adoration experience, many identifying an increase in peace and joy, a commitment to prayer and even private confession of their sins.
One student said it was “one of the most beautiful things I’ve ever experienced”.
“God truly spoke to me and I felt as though all my worries were washed away in prayer,” the student said.
“The Blessed Sacrament was an amazingly uplifting and beautiful thing.”
Ms Healy said that, from the students’ written reflections, “so many of them were genuinely touched by God and their hearts were genuinely moved and they could feel his presence”.
“The (Scripture) quote that stood out to me was, ‘Let the children come to me’,” she said.
“And I think actually we underestimate how spiritual and how faithful children are.
“We think they won’t understand and they won’t get it, but quite often we’re called to be as innocent and as simple as they are.”
St John Paul II prayed for an increase in the devotion when he asked priests, religious and lay people “to continue and redouble their efforts to teach the younger generations” the meaning and value of Eucharistic adoration.
Mr Thomsen said the students’ reflections indicated the importance of committing to the Brisbane archdiocese’s curriculum for faith formation.
“One of the core quotes we focus on is from the Brisbane Catholic Education’s RE curriculum document, which says a true test of a school’s authenticity or authentic identity and culture is to the extent which the Church is present at the school and the school is present at the church,” he said.
“We’re trying to have a real grounding through Kids in Action in making the Church present in the school and vice-versa, and I think through that God’s worked in that and allowed for this 24 hours of Jesus’ presence to have the impact that it did.”
Mr Thomsen said bringing children before the Blessed Sacrament would always have a profound impact.
“I think, to someone of faith it’s obvious that when someone’s in the presence of Christ, it’s going to impact them whether they want it to or not, because God’s power and grace is greater than anything we can imagine,” he said.
“I think that we, in our school, in all Catholic schools, we talk about Christ’s presence in everything.
“And we’re actually doing that, we’re putting Christ in the centre and kneeling before him and worshipping him.”
Mr Thomsen said Kids in Action also promoted student visits to local homeless shelters, weekly Scripture study and active participation in daily Catholic devotions.
Jubilee parish priest Fr Peter Brannelly said the initiative seemed “so out of the box” especially as it was organised on the night of the first State of Origin game of the season.
“But I decided to stand back and let the Holy Spirit work,” Fr Brannelly said.
“To my surprise, there were no gaps in the schedule rather countless numbers of people.”
Fr Brannelly said even the “sceptics” were amazed at the response from the students.
“It says that there are some devotions that in the past we’ve lost, but that forms of adoration can still play an important part of our faith life no matter what age, whether it’s Preps to 80-year-olds and in between,” he said.
“In all honesty, we were rather taken aback by how serious the children took it and it was contagious – when they entered into it, it made others enter into the experience.”
Mr Thomsen said he was open to discussions with other Catholic education staff about taking the program into other schools within Brisbane archdiocese.
By Emilie Ng